tv [untitled] June 11, 2012 1:30pm-2:00pm EDT
friends with a courtroom full of my supporters who were all begging me not to, but i knew if i was going to be consistent in justice i had to do that. i've sent people to prison because it was the fair and just thing when considering all of the facts. and considering what had been done in the past and then i've gone in my office after sentencing and went because of the personal anguish of those that i care deeply about. but i knew i did the right thing. so when i hear an attorney general of the united states come before us and say somewhat cavalierly that there is a political aspect to this office it offends me beyond belief. your job is justice, mr.
attorney general, it's justice across the board. and that is what's been so troublesome around here. when we made a request a year ago, here for the documents that your department has produced to people who were convicted of supporting terrorism, they're terrorists, and we wanted the documents you gave to the terrorists why in the world would your department be more considerate of the terrorists than of the people who are members of congress who can vote to just completely defund your department. it makes no sense. so i will ask again. and there is no room for a response it's an ongood evening investigation. some of these may be classified. i'm asking for the documents your department produced to the terrorists supporters convicted
in the holy land foundation trial. can we get those documents just the ones that you gave to the terrorist defendants? >> well, certainly you can have access to those things on the public record used in the trial. i was also a judge. i sat in this washington, d.c. -- >> so is that a yes or a no that we will get those documents? >>s a i said, i was also a judge and understand the anguish that you go through. just to make clear of one thing with regard to the political aspect of this job, i have to advance or try to advance legislation that i think is appropriate for the department. that is a political job. i push policy initiatives before the department. that is a political component. i fight defunding requests that people kind of cavalierly throw around about the budget of this department. that is my perspective a political component. >> it is not cavalierly when a department has parts of it that
are not doing their job and in fact may be giving more aid and comfort to people who are part of organizations who want to bring about an end to our way of life, then that concerns me that perhaps that is an area that should be defunded. and when you've been here before witness stand ae talked about fast and furious and you asked who actually authorized fast and furious, you had said we may not ever know who authorized fast and furious. are you any closer right now as you sit here to knowing who authorized fast and furious? >> i suspect that we are closer given the fact that the inspector general charged with the responsibility of investigating this matter at my request has been in the field and been interviewing people. my guess would be we are closer to that. i suspect that report will be out soon. >> did you not ever go back to your office and say when you
found out about fast and furious that i demand to know who authorized this? are things so fast and loose in your office that somebody can authorize the sale to international criminals of american guns that are bringing about the death of even american agents and nobody asked to do that in writing? >> the gentleman's time's expired, but you can answer the question. >> let's look at what i did do. i asked the inspector general to connect an investigation. i put an end to the policy that led to the fast and furious debacle. i made personnel challenges at aftf and in u.s. attorney's office. that's a stark contrast to the previous attorney general when he was briefed about.
>> sir, that was a different aspect. >> those are simply the facts. my question was did you go back and say i demand to know who authorized this fast and furious program? what was the question. >> that's consistent with me telling the inspector general find out what happened. the answer is yes. >> the gentleman's time's expired. mr. johnson is recognized for five minutes. >> on may 12th, the house passed the commerce appropriations bill. this is a part of the ryan budget. and it tries its best to eviscerate and neuter the ability of the jusz tis department to protect americans as it is supposed to do. you can't operate without money. and the bill in its attempt to
neuter the department cuts funding for financial and mortgage fraud enforcement. it prohibits funding for enforcing the requirement that licensed firearms dealers report multiple sales of rifles to the same person. it prohibits funding to bring actions against states for their voter identification laws. among other things. the bill will cut funding for the general administration line on the d.o.j.'s budget request from $81 million to $45 million.
-- excuse me, yes, $29 million less than requested. the d.o.j. program for asset foritture has been cut. the number of u.s. attorneys you'll have 1,000 unfilled positions. you've already lost attorneys, 850 staff since the hiring freeze that would you say instituted in january of 2011 and has gone since that went into effect. and this bill could result in an additional 411 positions lost. the antitrust division is cut $5.2 million. you could lose up to 70
positions in that unit. you've already lost 77 positions in that unit. that's the unit that keeps consumer prices low and gets at collusion and bid rigging and other activities that cost money to consumers. cost consumers money. the u.s. trustee program which you administer which is so important in bankruptcy, which are on the rise, seen a 5% reduction. 50 positions may be suspended. law enforcement wireless communications for the
department has been cut. the ability to hire people in foreign language -- skilled in foreign languages has been cut. these things hurt the department's ability to be effective. i want to get to that part about the voter identification laws you were answering a question that was posed to you by mr. -- from iowa, mr. king. but you were cut off by the bell and not given a chance to complete your statement on that. can you complete it now, please? >> i'll be honest with you, i don't remember. >> it had to do with the south carolina challenge of your department to they voter i.d. laws. >> all i can say is with regard
to the south carolina law, we looked at the evidence that was provided to us by south carolina. did not feel that the evidence about voter fraud was substantial enough to overcome the disproportionate impact that the changes in their voting procedures had on minorities, older people, young people. it was on that basis and under section five of the voting rights act that we decided to file suit. >> so basically you were stating or you've stated that the reason that south carolina gave for making it tougher to vote through voter i.d. requirements, the reason that they did that which is to get at voter fraud did not hold any water. in other words, there was insufficient evidence of voter
fraud and so therefore there must have been some other intention behind their legislation to make it more difficult to vote. would you agree with me on that? >> the initial material that we got from them did not have any statistical proof. we got a submission from them later on that there were perhaps 900 people who were dead on voter rolls. that was disputed by another south carolina official. this is all a matter now before the court will be ultimately decided by another court in washington, d.c. >> and then as i stated earlier, the house commerce -- >> the chairman's time has expired. >> requires funding to bring action against the states for their voter identification laws. i'll yield back the blanks of my time. but i would like to make a unanimous consent request. >> without objection. what document does the gentleman wish to enter in the record.
>> there are ten letters of support for attorney general holder praising his leadership from the national fraternal order of police. from a tucson shooting survivor, a letter from the leadership conference to chairman issa, a letter from commissioner ramsey to chairman issa, the letter from the national action network to chairman issa. a letter from the leadership conference to speaker boehner. a letter from the national women's law center to speaker boehner. a letter from the national women's law center to chairman issa. a tricaucus letter from representative gonzalez. representative cleaver and representative -- >> without objection. >> last but not least. the letter from the national
organization of black law enforcement. >> did you get these letters from the attorney general himself? i'm teasing. without objection all these letters will be made a part of the record. the gentleman from texas is recognized for questioning. >> thank you. a recent study said there's about two million ineligible voters in the united states. i would assume that voter rolls when verified that they're dead should be purged in some manner. would you agree with that or not? >> absolutely. i think the purging should occur. it just ought to be consistent with federal law. >> our office, how many specific
cases have you prosecuted, your office prosecuted on voter fraud since you've been attorney general? >> i don't know what the number is. i know that i prosecuted them myself. >> just when you were attorney general? >> i don't know what the number is. >> would the number be zero? >> no. i think we had fraud cases. we've settled through pleas. we've had cases where people have committed offenses where they made straw donations in other ways in which voter fraud was carried out. i know we've done those cases. i don't know the number. >> so i know the exact number. the information i've been given is zero. if you would provide me the actual number, i don't need the cases just the number of cases. let me know and let the chairman know the exact number because
like i said my information is there are none. >> our efforts to fight voter fraud go beyond just section eight of the nvra. there's a whole range of other statutes that we use. >> understand. i would like to know specifically section eight prosecutions under your term as attorney general. >> you can put that into the larger set. >> i know there are other cases. i'm not asking for the other ones. i'm asking for the section eight prosecutions by your office. >> just to be fair torque get a sense of what it is we're doing, i'll give you that information. >> you can give me more information if you wish. that's fine. just so section eight's included in that. >> sure. >> the mexican ambassador to the united states recently has made some comments about fast and furious that mexico was unaware of quote, mexico was never apprised how the operation would be designed and implemented. talked about the fact that fast
and furious has hurt the relationship between the united states and mexico. i'm not surprised that he would say something like this. we constantly talk as we should about the americans that were killed in fast and furious. there were apparently according to mexican news reports hundreds of mexican nationals killed because of fast and furious the last time you were here you answered a question and you said more people will probably die because of fast and furious. do you know how many people in mexico have you been killed as a result of the united states helping to facilitate straw purchases of automatic weapons going down to mexico. do you know how many? >> i don't know. but i would think that there have been some. i know that given the 64,000 guns that have gone to from the united states to mexico that mexican citizens, mexican law enforcement officers have lost their lives as a result of guns that started in the united states and ended up in mexico.
>> how many of the guns have been recovered of the total number in fast and furious and get different numbers. i heard 1200, i heard 2,000. how many guns have been recovered in mexico that were the rul of guns involved in the fast and furious operation? >> i don't know that number. >> any guess at all? that was the purpose was it not of fast and furious to sort of keep up with the firearms when they go to mexico and see whether they were used in a crime scene and who the bad guys were. wasn't that the purpose? >> that was the stated purpose as it was as it was in the previous attempts of dealing with the other flow of guns none of which were successful and all of which allowed guns to be inappropriately put into the stream of commerce. >> how many guns had been recovered on fast and furious? >> i've heard different numbers on that as well. anywhere from 800 to 1200. i just don't know. i think we start off with a
number of about 2,000 that we'll put into inappropriately put into the stream of commerce and then the number that is recovered as i've heard 800 to 1200, but i don't know. >> what would america's reaction be if the roles were completely reversed. if our neighbors, mexico or canada they smuggled, facilitated the smuggling of automatic weapons in our country where americans were killed, mexican nationals killed. what would our reaction be to that? >> probably similar to what the ambassador has said. though i do have to say, we maintain a good relationship with mexico that operates on a whole bunch of levels. certainly law enforcement is the one i'm most familiar with. i have a good relationship with the attorney general in mexico we talk all the time. we continue to work together on a variety of law enforcement projects. it's not been deterred by the
regrettable fast and furious episode. i can understand the mexican ambassador's comment. >> what are we doing -- >> gentleman. >> i didn't realize. we're from the south we should get more than five minutes. we talk slower. >> why doesn't the gentleman from question ask a question that he'd like the attorney general to respond to in writing. >> do you want me to ask the question or suggest the question? >> ask the question and we'll get the response later on. >> i will submit numerous questions to the attorney general. and he could submit back if he would to the chairman. >> thank you. the gentleman from tennessee is recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman, i'll talk fast even though i'm from the south. mr. attorney general we appreciate you coming before us. in october of 2008, the department of justice approved the merger between delta and northwest airlines. the department of justice issued a statement you may not remember this, quote, proposed merger
between delta and northwest is likely to produce substantial incredible officialsies that will benefit u.s. consumers and it's not likely to substantially lessen competition, unquote. unfortunately, that forecast has in many people's minds in memphis, in particular, proved to be grossly inaccurate. many of the promises made by delta in front of this committee have been broken. as anybody in memphis can attest, the price of flying out of this quote/unquote fortress hub is much, much, much higher than it is flying out of other cities and you can fly to cities through memphis at cheaper prices than you can from memphis to "x." if you go through another memphis to this city it's cheaper than memphis, too. this has caused the city the loss of conventions, the loss of businesses who said we left memphis because the price to fly in and out was too great. so they moved to atlanta. convention movie ind to kansas . another group moved to kansas city. people in memphis are very upset
about this, and we have unreasonably high airfares. memphis is not alone. cincinnati lost their hub. and service has been cut in minneapolis as well. now that the merger's in place, what type of enforcele mechanisms does your department of justice to ensure competition or try to get competition and break up what is in essence a monopoly? >> i think we have been appropriately aggressive in our enforcement efforts. there are a number of cases we have brought, everything from ebooks, to the way in which telecommunications industry has tried to consolidate. and in those cases where we have not brought suit, we have extracted from the parties who have sought to join. promises or concrete divestitures of assets so that we would maximize the chances that the consumer would benefit. i think we have focused
appropriately on what the impact will be on consumers and i think that the -- >> but in the airline industry, have we done anything -- airline industry has gotten to be basically three major carriers. they've divided up the middle cities and the middle cities are hostages. they are company towns. and the people in the cities have to pay whatever they're charged. can we do anything about that? >> well, i mean, there's a certain amount of consolidation that has happened in the industry that i think is necessary for the survival of those companies, but, for instance, you look at with delta and u.s. air tried to in transition involving laguardia airport and national airport here in washington, d.c. we approve what they wanted to do in new york. and we have reserved decision on what they wanted to do here in washington. to see what the impact of these consolidated -- >> if i can interrupt you, because our timing is limited. washington, los angeles, new york, the big cities have got
competition. it's the middle american cities that are getting the brunt of this. memphis is one of them. what can you do about memphis, cincinnati, st. louis, pittsburgh? >> well, i mean, what we can always do is to examine what the impact of these mergers has been and if we find anti-competitive operations in a particular city -- >> then can i ask you to look into memphis and the situation there? frontier airlines came in. delta came in. undercut them. frontier left. u.s. air now is run in memphis, washington. delta is going to undercut them. southwest is not looking to come in. we talked to southwest. they said if we come in, we're going to be undercut. that's monopoly. >> yeah. i mean, there cannot be -- i can't comment on the particulars because i'm not aware of them, but to the extent that one entity tries to undercut another inappropriately by lowering its prices, and driving that competitor out of the market,
raises the prices once it's gone, that's inappropriate under antitrust laws. that's the kind of thing that could have impact on consumers and we would aggressively pursue. >> let me ask you to look at the situation in memphis. that's number one. memphis, too, i think i've written you about this. grocery store business. krogers came in and bought out the market. bought out shnooks. they have an area of influence in southern illinois they didn't have because they swapped stores with kroger. prices have gone up. there's not competition there. it's happening all over america. business is finding ways to work with each other to create monopolistic practices and take advantage of consumers and consumers are left off. it's what's happening. income inequality, purchasing ability inequality. the middle class. the consumer. they've got nowhere to go. the only hope and change they've got is with you and this administration. otherwise, big business is cutting them out. so i appreciate you looking into
this monopolistic practices and looking after the consumer which i know you want to. >> our focus is on the protection of consumers. i think as i said, we've been aggressive. we put people to head that division who shared that attitude and as i said, i think they've done a fogood job. >> thank you. i yield back the proverbial remainder of my time when i have none. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz. >> thank you, mr. attorney general, for being here. i'd like to focus my comments on fast and furious. you stated in previous testimony here today you read the six wiretap applications. i, too, have read those wiretap applications. i come to a conclusion that is totally different than your conclusions. and that is -- but i think a sliver of the information that we're looking at where a reasonable person would only come to the conclusion that the senior-most people within the department of justice did,
indeed, know that guns were walking, those tactics were being used. my question for you, mr. attorney general, those things are sealed. wiretap investigations. nobody want to impede an ongoing or hamper prosecution opportunities. my question for you today is, would you be willing to make yourself personally available to myself and mr. gouwdy and mr. bobby scott and mike quigley, to come talk to you, sit down, and i want you to show me how you don't come to that conclusion and i'd like to show you why i think there's a preponderance of evidence that would lead one to believe that, yes, indeed, the department of justice did know about this. is that fair? could you make yourself available? >> chairman, parliamentary -- >> continue to inquire. >> mr. chairman, i know the attorney general's about to answer, but the -- is it appropriate -- is it appropriate for members to refer to sealed
documents in this vijudiciary committee room and suggest the attorney general makes a personal visit to members on what is sealed and what should not be provided during a criminal investigation? >> i simply ask if, again, please mr. chairman, this should not count toward my time. i'm simply asking, there's a dispute here. this has gone on for a year and a half. most members on this side asked about fast and furious. we're trying to resolve this, get to the end of it. it's hard to do in five minutes. just asking for personal time to show now what we've seen and for you to share with us what you've seen. >> but mr. chairman, i, again, refer -- these are sealed documents. i'm trying to understand, is the gentleman wanting the -- excuse me, the attorney general to speak to sealed document that have been leaked and discuss it
with members while there's a pending criminal investigation? >> i'm not asking -- >> gentleman will suspend. the contents of the sealed documents may not be discussed. the gentleman may have his time back, and we'll -- >> thank you, chairman. >> -- the remaining time that has been allotted to the gentle lady from texas. >> is that a reasonable request? will you sit down with us and talk about this? >> well, i don't think that under the federal law i have an ability to talk about, as the statute says, the contents of the wiretap. >> would you be willing to sit with us and talk about all the other pieces of evidence we see that aren't sealed? >> what? >> well, i have sat down with you on eight separate occasions. >> i'm asking for more time to sit with you. more than just five minutes and go through this in some depth. give us two hours. two members from the democrats, two on the republican side, and go through this. >> you know, with all due respect, i give you four hours at a crack on eight separate occasions. i'm not sure there's an awful
lot more i have to say. one point i would say, you and i have both read materials that senior people in the justice department, as they went through those, that approval process, did not read. as we know -- >> let me go on, please. so the answer's no? >> no, but -- >> you're eating up my time. i only have 3 1/2 minutes left. i'd like more time. that's what i'm asking for. you're saying no. please, let me share with you why i think this is imperative. sunday, october 17th, 11:07 p.m., jason weinstein sends an e-mail to james trustee. do you think we should try to have lanny participate in a press? when fast and furious and tucson case are unsealed. it's a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked. it is a significant set of prosecutions. james trusttee sends back to jason weinstein, it's not going to be any big surprise a bunch of u.s. guns are being used in mexico, so i'm not sure how mu